Australian Unis Are Finally Releasing Their Data On Sexual Assault

The universities have backflipped after they were accused of "betraying" students.

All of Australia’s 39 universities have announced that they will release data on the prevalence of sexual assault on their campuses, after initially resisting moves to publicise the numbers.

The Australian Human Rights Commission launched a survey last August looking into the rate of sexual harassment, abuse and assault at Australian universities. The study is being funded by Universities Australia — the peak body representing all Australian unis.

The national survey was initiated after numerous stories emerged last year suggesting universities were not sufficiently addressing incidents of sexual assault. A study commissioned by the University of Sydney found that 99 percent of sexual assaults on campus went unreported. A seperate report found that only six students across the country had been expelled in the past five years, despite more than 500 official complaints relating to sexual assault being lodged.

This week high-profile women’s rights campaigner Nina Funnell accused the Human Rights Commission of “betraying” students for not agreeing to release data at a university-by-university level.

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said she would “encourage” universities to release their own data, but they wouldn’t be forced to.

Yesterday Universities Australia released a statement saying that “while the release of the institutional reports is a matter for each university” they expected most campuses to publish the data.

But today Universities Australia issued a new statement confirming that every university had agreed to release their individual reports on the prevalence of sexual assault.

University leaders wanted the survey to guide further improvements in how to prevent and respond to sexual assault and harassment, and support survivors,” the organisation’s chief executive, Belinda Robinson, said.

The national report will be released in mid-2017 and each university will publish their own data at that time as well.

Feature image via University of Sydney Women’s Collective/Facebook